As millions of people came out in their numbers on Wednesday to cast their vote in the 2016 Local Government Elections, voters sentiments are an apt reflection of the mood of the country at the moment – it’s time for change. VOC News visited at a myriad of polling stations on Election Day and unsurprisingly, found a sense of dismay amongst voters in the Cape Metropole, who feel their current municipality is not working for them.
While most people were excited to vote and to asset their hard won, democratic right, others felt they need a say in who governs their country.
“I feel that it is every South Africans democratic and constitutional right to vote for whichever party they feel fills their interest as well as the country’s interest,” said one voter in Crawford who stood in the queue for about 15 minutes before he was able to mark his ballot paper.
A family later walked into the voting station and the father told us “every vote does matter”. His daughter, a first time voter, said that she is voting because she wants to see crime levels go down and she wants peace across all areas of the Cape.
In Athlone, an elderly woman who was exiting the polling station, said that she feels like the party that she voted for will make a change.
“I’ve been voting all these years, but I was excited about this election as well and I will continue to vote for years to come because I just want everything to fall in place,” explained the voter who voted for the 5th time.
However in the Steenberg community, voters said that their area is constantly forgotten about and big political parties are not making any changes to the situation there.
Daniel Haywood,a concerned resident of Steenberg said most parties make a lot of promises when they are campaigning for votes, but when they are in power then the big political parties are no longer active in Steenberg.
“We need to give new parties a chance. Everybody started small, but they need time to grow and through votes they can grow. So the smaller the party the harder they are going to work because they want to be there on top, but parties that are in power feel that they do not need to see to the needs of the people on the ground anymore,” explained Haywood.
He says his community faces daily violence and people are shot on a regular basis, whether these shootings are gang related is not known. Haywood also discussed the lack of police presence in Steenberg and Lavender hill, two areas on the Cape flats that are rarely reported on in mainstream media.
“The big parties are constantly fighting against each other for more power and they forget about people on the grass root levels. It’s better to smaller parties because they are going to work hard to achieve what they want to achieve and then you achieve as well in the process,” Haywood continued.
On the other hand, outside the Steenberg polling station another Steenberg resident said the ward councillor is supportive. She says the councillor assisted one of her family members with regards to getting a proof of address letter.
But Haywood says that the issues they face in the Steenberg community outweigh what the ward councillor can do for them.
“We face tons of issues here in Steenberg, we are not eligible for free housing, but other people get free housing closer to the town centre.”
“There is a lot of violence in our community but you don’t see an active police presence in the area and there have been quite a few shooting incidents in the area but police have to travel from Muizenberg to get to this area and by the time they get here it is too late.”
On the other side of the peninsula, the residents of Masiphumelele face housing struggles and one resident says that she has been waiting for the past 16 years to get a house in the area.
“I have to continue to pay rent and we have no jobs in our area so it is a constant struggle,” says Edee, the Masiphumelele resident who took her small baby with her to the polls.
“I still vote because I want to see change and hopefully these councillors can keep their promises.” VOC